Police, traders join hands against criminals

At least 10 major jewellery showrooms and textile shops in Fort area, arguably the busiest shopping district in the city, will work in tandem with the police to protect shoppers from pickpockets and chain-snatchers this Onam festival season.

Assistant Commissioner, Fort, M. Radhakrishnan Nair, says the traders, including few hoteliers, have volunteered to augment the police video surveillance network by placing night vision-enabled video cameras to cover roads and parking lots in the vicinity of their establishments.

‘Good for business'

A local trader says this partnership with the police to prevent crime is good for business. Purse-lifters, chain-snatchers and drunks drive away shoppers from the locality. He says the new measures will make buyers, mainly women, feel safe.

On their part, the police will familiarise traders with the photographs and methods of operation of known shoplifters and petty criminals. They will instruct staff and security men in rudimentary crime prevention methods.

Plainclothesmen

At a joint meeting last week, the police advised traders not to transport currency and valuables to and from their showrooms at predictable timings.

Over 100 plainclothes officers, including 40 women, will be deployed in Fort this Onam. The undercover squads will also focus on persons who sexually harass women in public places. They will patrol crowded market places, travel in public transport buses and stake out near bus stops.

The police will not allow vendors to appropriate pavements or waysides. They have requested traders not to rent out their storefronts to hawkers.

A local person says that gangsters in the area often appropriated public space, by marking the spot with chalk or a piece of cloth, and “leased” it out to hawkers from outside the State for a daily rent.

The gangsters run lucrative protection money rackets, preyed on street hawkers and collected huge sums of money from traders and residents in the name of Onam celebrations. He says police rarely prosecute such gangs, though local people pass on information anonymously.

No sales near temple

The police say no sales will be allowed on the streets surrounding the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, where a large treasure trove was uncovered recently. They have asked hotel and lodge owners to accurately record and report details of guests. The police have proposed that a portion of the Putharikandam Maidan be earmarked as a paid parking area to be administered by the Municipal Corporation.